Washington announced on January 16 that they would extend their assistance program to Lebanon which will pay the salaries of its army personnel for a month, according to Asharq Al- Awsat and agencies.
Since 2019, Lebanon’s economy has collapsed which has resulted in soldiers enduring massive pay cuts. The average soldier earned around the equivalent of $800 a month however they now earn a paltry $100 a month.
Despite the economic crash, it was reported in May 2023 that the minimum wage rose from 2.6 million Lebanese Pounds (LBP) a month ($173) to 9 million LBP a month ($600).
In support of Lebanon’s army, the Biden administration implemented cash distributions in June for a period of six months which included a monthly payment of $100 for each army personnel.
As established, Lebanese soldiers now earn an extra $100 but as of February, the US administration noted that Qatar will be handing the extra wages to army personnel.
A soldier noted that he and many of his fellow personnel haven’t received Lebanese government assistance as a result of a shortage of funds.
He said that he had to work a second job just to make ends meet and added, “We (soldiers) also haven’t been receiving food coupons that helped us buy rice, milk, flour and others,”
Under Lebanese army policy, it is illegal for staff to undertake a second job, which many have done recently, but due to the turmoil, the military has acted with leniency on the matter.
Amidst fears of a full-blown war with Israel – similar to the month-long conflict in 2006 – , citizens are left scared as the country, in contrast to its southern neighbours, is woefully unprepared for it.
A high-profile member of the Lebanese Civil Defence said in early November, “We are the first line of defence, yet we have no equipment to protect ourselves.”
If war erupts, we might not be able to secure enough water for our trucks or other basics like food”.
It is a dire time for Lebanese people who are watching Gazans die in high numbers since Israel’s hostile aggression in the Palestinian enclave and it is highly likely that the conflict will spread.
Asharq Al-Awsat and agencies